Girona FC: the surprise leaders looking to shock La Liga and Real Madrid

It seems that Man City’s magic has rubbed off on other clubs under the City Group umbrella, as Girona FC have stunned everyone to lead La Liga after the first seven rounds of matches.

Situated in a city in Catalonia, with a stadium holding just 13,500 seats, Girona are certainly punching above their weight to start this campaign.

Their season started with a 1-1 draw away at Champions League side Real Sociedad. From here, however, Los Blanquivermells have been in formidable form, reeling off six straight victories.

A 3-0 win in their home opener against Getafe preceded a 2-1 victory at Europa League holders Sevilla. Following this, a 1-0 win over Las Palmas meant that the Catalan side went into the September international break with 10 points from a possible 12.

The time off did not mess with Girona’s flow, either. Manager “Michel” Sanchez saw his side score four vs Granada (a 4-2 win) before netting five in a 5-3 victory over Mallorca. Finally, Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Villarreal – coupled with Barcelona’s dropping of points – leaves Girona FC top of La Liga.

But it is not just the fact that Girona are winning games – it is how they are doing it.

Girona FC: a squad full of youth and experience

Michel’s team have been one of Spain’s great entertainers thus far in 2023/24. Pundits have lauded over Girona’s engaging, attacking play – which has also proved fruitful. They have bagged eighteen goals from seven games, tying with Barca for the most in the division. To go alongside this, their goals come from a variety of sources, with 11 different players finding the net.

Where do all these chances come from, though?

Girona FC have crafted a squad that is a combination of emerging talent and veteran experience. Los Blanquivermells have an average age of 26.3, putting them among the most youthful La Liga sides.

One of their standout players this season has been Savio. Despite being just 19, the Brazilian forward has proven a handful for defenders already. He leads La Liga with four assists so far, plus has two goals to go with it.

Savio also possesses brilliant ability on the ball, averaging more successful dribbles per game than Vinicius Jr. He, alongside the team’s top scorer Artem Dovbyk, have spearheaded Girona’s thrilling attack.

But behind this attacking talent, there are plenty of top-level pros, too. Free agent signing Daley Blind has been a consistent presence in defence, with David Lopez regularly alongside him. Then between the sticks is former Spurs and Fulham keeper Paulo Gazzaniga.

Midfielder Aleix Garcia has also been a crucial piece in Girona’s fantastic start to the season, being one of the most accurate passers in La Liga.

The squad’s overall balance has enabled Girona FC to surprise everyone with their presence at the top of La Liga. However, their first big test of 2023/24 awaits this weekend.

Los Blanquivermells face Real Madrid test

Girona play host to Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid this Saturday, making for an unexpected top-of-the-table clash.

The prospect of a battle between two talented Brazilian attackers – Vinicius Jr and Savio – should be an exciting one for the neutral. Although in Girona’s case, “Vini” is just one of several headaches that Los Blancos give opponents. Jude Bellingham, Rodrygo, and a star-studded defence are all a part of the challenge of playing Real.

And yet Girona can head into this game with confidence. They have won six matches in a row – and have a great recent record against Madrid. Real have failed to beat the Catalans in their last three clashes, notching one draw and two defeats. Most recently, Taty Castellanos had an incredible four-goal haul in a 4-2 Girona win at Estadi Montilivi last season.

Will Girona FC pull off another result against Real? Or will Carlo Ancelotti’s side restore the status quo in La Liga? Either way, Saturday’s game should be a belter.

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Featured image credit: La Liga